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REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

By Adam F. Cohen

originally published: 12/04/2017

REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

Ingenious.  Captivating.  Hysterical.  Thoroughly entertaining.  Those are just some of the adjectives which describe Mark Shanahan’s production of The 39 Steps playing at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken.

Ostensibly a thriller, in the hands of these four resourceful actors all but our protagonist Richard Hannay (Joe Delafield) play multiple characters in this adaption of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1935 film. The 39 Steps was originally a big, serious, movie about spies between the wars, dashing heroes and classy dames. There was gorgeous black-and-white Scottish and English scenery, and that tingling, suspenseful finale at the London Palladium.

In the hands of this nimble cast under the sterling direction of Mark Shanahan, one’s imagination must recreate the suspense elements like a train roof chase here portrayed gingerly stepping over steamer trunks.

REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

The plot finds Richard Hannay (Joe Delafield), a debonair 37-year-old bachelor in London, bored one evening at the theater alone. A mysterious woman in black, Annabella Schmidt (Alycia Kunkle), fires a gun in the middle of a memory-artist’s act and asks for Richard’s help. Let me hide in your flat, she begs, presumably because he is a debonair 37-year-old bachelor without a date. She regales him about the spies pursuing her and hints at weaponry-related secrets that could threaten Britain’s security. Annabella is murdered in the night, and Richard must go on the run to find the leader of the spy ring and clear himself of any connection with Annabella’s death. Thus, the train and the ensuing chases.  Delafield is an affable lead - he preens, postures, and grows into a credible hero.

Richard encounters an extraordinary number of colorful people most played as Clown No. 1 and Clown No. 2, Zachary Fine and Evan Zes in over 100 roles. Their characters include a milkman, a newsboy, a cleaning woman, a train conductor, theater performers, politicians, secret agents, husband-and-wife Scottish hoteliers, traveling lingerie salesmen and a wide variety of law enforcement officials. Their brilliant quick-change artistry filled with clever costumes (Peter Fogel) and astute props (Emmett Grosland) including hats, clothing, wigs and accents in fractions of a second – sometimes mid-sentence.  Knuckle plays multiple female roles - garnering a German accent (channels Madeline Kahl in Blazing Saddles) and is a pleasant, ernest performance.



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Wide eyed Hitchcock fans will enjoy the numerous homage through out the script (Patrick Barlow) including a crop-dusting plane tries to run down our hero. The heroine (Alycia Kunkle) suffering from vertigo. The hotel desk with the sign saying, “Dial M for meal service.”

Shanahan’s assured direction – comes from having played the Hannay role on Broadway and directing the play through out the country.  Mile Square Theatre serves as a perfect location for this ingenious, crafty, irreverent production as the four actors earnestly try to tell the tale. Sit up close to the action and play along with the actors.  It’s high fun, witty, high-energy show that brews breezy holiday spirit and captivates the attention of kids of all ages.

The 39 Steps is on stage now through December 23rd. Mile Square Theatre is located at 1400 Clinton Street in Hoboken, New Jersey. Tickets are available online.

REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

Photos by Joe Epstein




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J CITY Theater Returns With "Bakersfield Mist"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- J CITY Theater launches their first full season in four years with their Fall show: Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs at their new location – The Barrow Mansion, 83 Wayne Street.  The production runs Thursdays through Sundays from September 28th through October 13th. Set in a downtrodden trailer park in California, Bakersfield Mist is the story of Maude Gutman (Sandy Cockrell) who has recently purchased an ugly painting at Daisy’s Junk Shop for three dollars.  Turns out, the painting may actually be a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock.   
Old Library Theatre Presents "Parade"
(FAIR LAWN, NJ) -- Old Library Theatre, Fair Lawn Recreation Department's resident theater company, presents Parade. Six performances only: October 12, 13, 19 & 20 at 8:00pm and October 14 & 21 at 2:00pm.  Parade tells the story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew living in Georgia in 1913, who is put on trial for the murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ.
The Lord Stirling Theater Company Presents "Treasure Island"
(BASKING RIDGE, NJ) -- The Lord Stirling Theater Company will present Treasure Island in the English Barn Theater at the Farmstead Arts Center October 5-7 and October 12-14. Adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) from the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island follows the adventures of a boy named Jim Hawkins who comes into possession of a treasure map.
Premiere Stages to Present World Premiere of Liberty Live Commission "Black Tom Island"
(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages at Kean University will present Martin Casella’s Black Tom Island from October 11-21 at Liberty Hall Museum (1003 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.). Originally commissioned over a two-year cycle through Premiere’s Liberty Live Commission, Black Tom Island will feature actors Damian Buzzerio, Mason Hensley, Jenna Krasowski and Bart Shatto. Producing artistic director John J. Wooten directs.
American Poetry Theater Presents "Gun Love"
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The American Poetry Theater presents Gun Love from October 5-7.  The play, written by cast and community members, runs about one hour and is a collection of monologues and a skit dealing with gun violence in America.  


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If anyone ever doubts that New Jersey is home to great theatre, just point them to the world premiere of “Pamela’s First Musical” at Two River Theater. The cast and creative behind this show by Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang includes a combined total of more than 25 Tony Award nominations and seven wins. It’s a cast that would look impressive at any theatre – Broadway  or otherwise. According to one of the stars, the opportunity to work with the 10-time Tony Award nominee director/choreographer Graciela Daniele and to be part of a new musical was too good to pass up.
The Jersey Devil on stage: An interview with playwright Brandon Monokian
Up-and-coming New Jersey native Brandon Monokian has worked as an actor, writer, director, producer, and popcorn sample distributor. He wrote and starred in the film Happy Yummy Chicken and co-founded the production company Love Drunk Life with Katie Frazer. Together they have produced plays, films, books, and, to support their creative work financially, a product line: lovedrunklife.com. Monokian received national attention through Revolutionary Readings (his TEDx talk at Princeton Library), which was used to fight the banning of the book Revolutionary Voices from two New Jersey libraries. 
An Interview With Nicole Pandolfo
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Event calendar
Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018


MUSIC

Cafe Tacvba with special guest Ruen Brothers – Niu Gueis Tour 2018 @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Gonzo Conference" @ Donald G. Drapkin Studio at Lewis Arts complex, Princeton - 8:00pm

Joan Baez @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Record Club: Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 7:30pm


KIDS

West End Festival of the Arts- Children's Storytelling @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 4:00pm

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